|Publication number||US7362571 B2|
|Application number||US 11/227,832|
|Publication date||Apr 22, 2008|
|Filing date||Sep 15, 2005|
|Priority date||Sep 16, 2004|
|Also published as||US20060068695|
|Publication number||11227832, 227832, US 7362571 B2, US 7362571B2, US-B2-7362571, US7362571 B2, US7362571B2|
|Inventors||Douglas P. Kelley, Alexander I. Yatskov|
|Original Assignee||Cray Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (46), Non-Patent Citations (3), Referenced by (20), Classifications (6), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/610,517, filed Sep. 16, 2004, currently pending and incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.
The following disclosure relates generally to air conditioning systems for computer cabinets and, more particularly, to inlet flow conditioners for computer cabinets.
Supercomputers typically include a large number of computer cabinets arranged in close proximity to each other.
Many of the electronic devices typically found on the computer modules 112 generate a considerable amount of heat during operation. This heat can damage the devices and/or degrade performance if not dissipated during operation. To overcome this problem, the computer system 100 includes a plurality of air handlers 120 (identified individually as air handlers 120 a-d). The air handlers 120 draw in warm air from the surrounding room and cool the air before flowing it into a plenum 124 that extends beneath a floor 125. Air movers 116 positioned in each of the computer cabinets 110 draw the cooling air upward from the floor plenum 124 through corresponding inlets 114. The air movers 116 typically include rotating fan or impellor blades. After flowing past the computer modules 112, the cooling air exits each of the computer cabinets 110 via a corresponding outlet 115. The warmed air then circulates back to the air handlers 120 as part of a continual cooling cycle.
One shortcoming of the supercomputer system 100 is that the air movers 116 can generate a significant amount of noise during operation. Not only does this noise make working around the system uncomfortable, but it can also be an indication that the air movers 116 are experiencing flow instability. In the case of fan or impellor blades, this instability could damage the air mover, reduce air flow, or shorten the life of the motor bearings.
Another shortcoming associated with the supercomputer system 100 is that the computer cabinets 110 tend to receive a non-uniform flow of cooling air from the air handlers 120. This imbalance can result from a number of factors, including the placement of the computer cabinets 110 relative to the air handlers 120, and/or whether one or more of the air movers 116 has been turned off for maintenance or other reasons. Because of this imbalance, some of the computer cabinets 110 may receive an insufficient flow of cooling air, resulting in overheating of the computer modules, while others receive an excessive flow, resulting in wasted energy.
One approach to solving this problem is to increase the overall output from the air handlers 120. This approach is often impractical, however, because of the high cost of constructing and operating such high-capacity air conditioning systems. In addition, this approach tends to require larger fans, increased cooling flows, and more power than many computer facilities were originally designed to provide or accommodate. Furthermore, such an approach may actually worsen the flow imbalance problem in some situations. Not to mention the fact that such systems are typically very noisy, creating a difficult work environment for facility personnel.
The following disclosure describes several embodiments of inlet flow conditioners for use with computer cabinet air-conditioning systems. Specific details of several embodiments of the invention are described below with reference to
Those of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the invention may have other embodiments in addition to those described below. Such embodiments may lack one or more of the elements described herein. Furthermore, such embodiments may include other elements in addition to those described herein.
In the Figures, identical reference numbers identify identical or at least generally similar elements. To facilitate the discussion of any particular element, the most significant digit or digits of any reference number refers to the Figure in which that element is first introduced. Element 210, for example, is first introduced and discussed with reference to
As discussed above with reference to
The vortex 126 can form in a number of different ways during normal operation of the computer system 100. One way such a vortex can form is by turning off one or more of the air handlers 120 for maintenance or other reasons. For example, if the fourth air handler 120 d is turned off, the flow from the remaining three air handlers 120 could produce the counterclockwise vortex 126. Turning off the second air handler 120 b in addition to the fourth air handler 120 d would presumably increase the strength of the vortex 126.
Another way to inadvertently cause the vortex 126 is to turn off one or more of the air movers 116 for cabinet maintenance or other reasons. For example, if the air movers 116 in the computer cabinets 110 a, b, f, and g were all turned off, then much of the air from the first air handler 120 a would pass by the inlets to these cabinets and contribute to formation of the vortex 126. Removing one or more panels from the floor 125 in a particular pattern could also contribute to vortex formation. Regardless of how the vortex 126 is formed, the end result can be flow-shearing, cavitation, stagnation, and/or other phenomena that increase noise and reduce flow efficiency.
For purposes of illustration, the foregoing discussion focuses on a vortex (e.g., the vortex 126) that runs counter to the direction of rotation of an affected air mover. However, even a vortex the flows in the same direction as the air mover can cause a significant reduction in static air pressure, thereby reducing the air flow through the corresponding computer cabinet. Thus, aspects of the present invention are not limited to addressing counter-rotating vortex phenomenon, but extend to other phenomena (e.g., turbulence, eddy currents, etc.) that can result in flow inefficiencies.
As discussed above with reference to
The flow conditioners 230 of the present invention are positioned beneath the inlets 214 of the computer cabinets 210. Each of the flow conditioners 230 includes a vortex diffuser 240 and a flow-speed normalizer 250. These features are described in greater detail below with reference to
In the illustrated embodiment, the flow conditioner 230 extends the full height of the floor plenum 224. In other embodiments, however, the flow conditioner 230 can be made shorter so that it does not extend all the way to a lower floor surface 225. Such embodiments leave the lower floor surface 225 open to facilitate movement of cables, etc., between the various computer cabinets and other equipment.
In another aspect of this embodiment, the flow conditioner 230 can further include a filter 354 wrapped around the perforated enclosure 352 (the filter 354 is shown partially cut away in
The vortex diffuser 240 can include at least one straightening vane 342 that extends across the opening 336 of the perforated enclosure 352. In the illustrated embodiment, for example, the vortex diffuser 342 includes two straightening vanes 342 arranged in a cross-pattern parallel to the direction of cooling air moving through the computer cabinet 210. In this embodiment, the two vanes 342 cross at a point that is at least approximately aligned with the central axis 217 of the air mover 216 (
In further embodiments, the vortex diffuser 240 can include yet other devices for directing air flow. Such devices can include, for example, a grid of flow-through cells having circular, octagonal (e.g., a honeycomb grid), rectangular, or other shapes for channeling air flow. Accordingly, the present invention is not limited to the particular vortex diffuser configuration illustrated in
After the cooling air flows though the perforated enclosure 352, it flows into the vortex diffuser 240. The vanes 342 of the vortex diffuser 240 align the flow with the central axis 217 of the air mover 216 to reduce any undesirable flow interaction (e.g., flow-shearing, turbulence, etc.) that may cause noise and/or reduce flow efficiency. The perforated enclosure 352 can also contribute somewhat to flow alignment with the air mover 216.
An advantage of the flow conditioners 230 described above is that they can increase and/or balance air flow through the computer cabinets 210. In one particular analysis, for example, it was found that by restricting the inlets 214 with the flow conditioners 230, the average air flow through the cabinets 210 increased by about 10-30% and became more balanced among the different cabinets. Another advantage of the flow conditioners 230 is that they can reduce air mover vibration, thereby reducing load on associated bearings, motors, etc. Reducing the load reduces the wear on these parts, and can increase the time intervals between service and inspections. This is especially important for computer cabinets that lack redundant (i.e., back-up) cooling fans.
Although the flow conditioner 230 described above includes both the vortex diffuser 240 and the flow-speed normalizer 250 for purposes of illustration, in other embodiments, a flow conditioner can lack one or the other of these features without departing from the spirit or scope of the present disclosure. For example, in other embodiments, a flow conditioner can include the flow-speed normalizer 250 without the vortex diffuser 240. Such an embodiment may be desirable, for example, in those situations where the corresponding computer cabinet lacks an air mover proximate to the cooling air inlet, thereby reducing the need for flow alignment at the inlet. In other embodiments, a flow conditioner can include the vortex diffuser 240 without the flow-speed normalizer 250.
Vortices can be caused by pressure differentials between high pressure areas (e.g., air handler outlets) and low pressure areas (e.g., computer cabinet inlets) deflecting and accelerating (locally) high velocity air streams. In this regard, the flow-speed normalizer can 250 reduce the flow velocity, pressure differentials, and associated disturbances proximate to the computer cabinet inlet. It one configuration, for example, it was found that a flow-speed normalizer that restricted the inlet flow by about 50-75% could stop vibration of the associated air mover completely. However, in some cases, a 50-75% flow restriction results in insufficient cabinet cooling. Thus, in such situations the flow conditioner 230 can further include the vortex diffuser 240 to help align the flow into the air mover without significantly restricting the flow.
The terms “vortex diffuser” and “flow-speed normalizer” have been used herein for ease of reference. Accordingly, these terms should not be read to limit the various structural and/or functional features of these elements.
From the foregoing, it will be appreciated that specific embodiments of the invention have been described herein for purposes of illustration, but that various modifications may be made without deviating from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, although elements of the invention described above have been presented in one or more arrangements, in other embodiments, other arrangements are possible depending on the particular situation. Further, while advantages associated with certain embodiments of the invention have been described in the context of those embodiments, other embodiments may also exhibit such advantages, and not all embodiments need necessarily exhibit such advantages to fall within the scope of the invention. Accordingly, the invention is not limited, except as by the appended claims.
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|U.S. Classification||361/694, 454/184, 361/695|
|Sep 15, 2005||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: CRAY INC., WASHINGTON
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:KELLEY, DOUGLAS P.;YATSKOV, ALEXANDER I.;REEL/FRAME:017011/0751
Effective date: 20050915
|Sep 14, 2011||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Jun 30, 2015||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8